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Stanley Kubrick sets the bar high

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Working with a genius
Brian Aldiss Writer
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I… I was delivered daily, or possibly it was weekly – I forget now – into Stanley's clutches and we would go through the motions of writing… of writing this screenplay. It was rather hard to work with Stanley – he… he wouldn't take yes for an answer. So… it was very difficult to put a proposition to him. He didn't readily listen to other people's propositions.

And this little boy, we established rather early, if this little boy drank water, then it would gum up his interior and he wouldn't be able to function. So that was going to be a kind of plot device that we might or might not use to get rid of the little boy.

I worked with him... I can't think for how long... but for a long time. And did I enjoy it? Well, my wife said to me, 'Why are you putting yourself through this?' And my response was, 'Well, I've always wanted to work with a genius'. But, I think that Kubrick certainly was a genius or had been a genius and had created some quite extraordinary movies, not least 2001. But by now, I think he wasn't too well, or was in decay. So, eventually, he turned to me and said, 'Brian, this isn't working. Alright, we're finished...' or whatever he said, and he then turned his back on me. Well, fuck that. I thought that was just plain rude, and so I left.

But that wasn't the end of his troubles. It may have been the end of mine, but it wasn't the end of his troubles.

Brian Aldiss (1925-2017) was an English writer and anthologies editor, best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. He was educated at Framlingham College, Suffolk, and West Buckland School, Devon, and served in the Royal Signals between 1943-1947. After leaving the army, Aldiss worked as a bookseller in Oxford, an experience which provided the setting for his first book, 'The Brightfount Diaries' (1955). His first science fiction novel, 'Non-Stop', was published in 1958 while he was working as literary editor of the 'Oxford Mail'. His many prize-winning science fiction titles include 'Hothouse' (1962), which won the Hugo Award, 'The Saliva Tree' (1966), which was awarded the Nebula, and 'Helliconia Spring' (1982), which won both the British Science Fiction Association Award and the John W Campbell Memorial Award. Several of his books have been adapted for the cinema. His story, 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long', was adapted and released as the film 'AI' in 2001. His book 'Jocasta' (2005), is a reworking of Sophocles' classic Theban plays, 'Oedipus Rex' and 'Antigone'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Stanley Kubrick

Duration: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014

Date story went live: 17 August 2015